AUGUSTA — City and Kennebec Land Trust officials say they will move ahead with plans to acquire the 164-acre Howard Hill property, which serves as a scenic backdrop to the State House, even though Gov. Paul LePage is withholding bond money that was earmarked for the purchase.

City councilors will meet Thursday to consider whether to authorize City Manager William Bridgeo to sign agreements with the Winthrop-based land trust that eventually would turn over ownership of the property to the city with a conservation easement requiring it to remain undeveloped.

The land trust plans to take out a loan to replace the $337,500 in Land for Maine’s Future funding that had been earmarked for the Howard Hill purchase. The city won’t take ownership of the land until the trust pays off the loan.

LePage has withheld $6.5 million in bonds approved by voters in 2010 and $5 million approved in 2012. The funds include money the Land for Maine’s Future program has approved for 30 projects, including the Howard Hill property.

The Portland Press Herald reported Tuesday that LePage also has frozen $2 million in bond money that Land for Maine’s Future already has on hand. The Land for Maine’s Future board met Tuesday but lacked a quorum, with three of LePage’s Cabinet members not attending.

Theresa Kerchner, executive director of the Kennebec Land Trust, said the funding freeze by the governor could affect the Howard Hill project further by preventing the Land for Maine’s Future staff from working on it.

“The freeze is disappointing because a number of us were receiving messages that Land for Maine’s Future staff were starting to review our project,” she said. “But now, staff is unable to have documents reviewed by the Land for Maine’s Future attorney, because it’s clear the program has ground to a halt.”

She said voters consistently support land conservation projects and LePage’s actions are frustrating.

Bridgeo said Tuesday he doesn’t expect the governor’s actions to affect the $1.2 million Howard Hill purchase other than to delay the city taking ownership.

“The council order would authorize me to effect the eventual transfer of the property from the land trust to the city,” Bridgeo said. “That transfer may now no longer take place” until after the loan is paid off, because the land trust wouldn’t be able to transfer property for which it still owes money.

Bridgeo praised the land trust’s board, noting it “deserves praise for the extraordinary measures it has undertaken to preserve this project notwithstanding the loss of the Land for Maine’s Future grant.”

Kerchner said Tuesday the organization hadn’t determined yet how long it would take to pay back the loan.

She said the nonprofit still hopes to be able to pay the loan back with Land for Maine’s Future funds. She said the organization hopes the Legislature, when it returns in January, will be able to address the impasse over the bond funds, and the funds will ultimately go to the projects for which they were awarded.

“If those funds don’t come to fruition, we’ll have to work on a plan B,” Kerchner said.

The proposed agreement between the land trust and city regarding transfer of the land gives the trust the right to defer conveyance of it to the city until September 2017.

The land trust intends to transfer ownership of the property, as well as a $100,000 “stewardship endowment” it intends to raise, to the city to help maintain and preserve the property, after it closes on it with landowner Sumner Lipman. The proposed agreement with the city would require the land trust to pay $25,000 of that money to the city on the day the land trust conveys the property to the city and the remaining $75,000 on or before Dec. 31, 2019.